Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Now that Abdul Rahman has been released in Afghanistan, the question occurred to me: does Islam really require the death penalty for conversion away from that religion? From Professor Juan Cole

The doctrine that apostacy deserves the death penalty comes out of medieval Islamic canon law rather than from the Quran itself. If Islam is to survive into the next century, its adherents need to rethink all those medieval legal doctrines to which modern fundamentalists are so attached. It is monstrous, and is the height of hypocrisy for Saudis and others to fund the conversion of Americans to Islam while threatening Saudi converts to Christianity with death.

As for the Quran itself, it says "la ikraha fi'd-din"-- there is no compulsion in religion.

[2:256] There is no compulsion in religion: the right way has been distinguished from the wrong way. Anyone who denounces the idol Taghut and believes in God has grasped the strongest handle; one that never breaks. God is the Hearing, the Knowing.

The Quran is forthright that the wages of unbelief and idolatry in this life are damnation in the next. But it does not permit coercion of the conscience in this life.

There is also Chapter 109, with its implication that the Prophet left the choice of religion, even unbelieving religion, to the individual:


In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.

Say, "O unbelievers.
I do not worship what you worship.
Nor do you worship what I worship.
Nor will I ever worship what you worship.
Nor will you ever worship what I worship.
To you, your religion; and to me, my religion."

Could it be that Islam has been perverted by its later followers, as Christianity clearly has?


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